AT&T employees ‘reveal’ trip to D.C. for West Knox youth

Sandra ClarkFeature, West Knoxville

Ryan Overman, 13, has no idea what’s in store for his family as the AT&T family joins with Wish Connection to make this fall memorable.

It started Aug. 2, election day, with a reveal party at Carl Cowan Park. Amid balloons and refreshments, Shavone Lovell welcomed the Overman family and their friends to the park.

“We interviewed him to see what kind of wish he had,” she said afterwards. Then the team scheduled a weekly conference call to make plans. The project grew with each call.

Ryan, it seems, wanted to visit Washington, D.C., to see the White House.

Ryan was born two weeks prematurely on May 13, 2005. During the pregnancy he was classified as high risk due to a measured lack of growth and, after a brief stay in the hospital, he came home weighing only four pounds, five ounces. His development was much slower compared to his peers, such as not learning to walk until he was well over a year old, and he was much smaller, according to information prepared by AT&T regional director Alan Hill.

Ryan’s parents are David and Marie Overman. His younger brother is Alex.

The Overman family worked with Tennessee Early Intervention Services (TEIS) when Ryan was about 1 year old and with their help they were able to get Ryan enrolled to receive occupational, physical and speech therapy. When Ryan turned 3, he transitioned from TEIS to the Knox County Early Intervention Program and began attending a special school to continue his therapies until he was old enough to enroll at Cedar Bluff Elementary School. He is now a rising seventh grader at Karns Middle School.

In 2016, Ryan was diagnosed to have retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease. The family has added Shadow, a service dog, and now Ryan wants to see the nation’s capital.

Shavone Lovell, a national account manager with AT&T, took on the task of making that wish come true. Ryan’s dad, David, is an engineer with AT&T. Employees raised and donated money; they recruited the company’s retirees, called Pioneers, who pitched in. The Texas-based Wish Connection contributed as well.

One team member has connections with the Secret Service. That will ease the White House visit. But Ryan and his family will see much more while in D.C. Lovell pointed to Ryan’s interest in both history and art. She also mentioned a secret – something will happen at Ryan’s house while the family is away.

Alan Hill continues: “Despite the physical difficulties that Ryan has had to endure over the last 13 years, he continually brightens the lives of those around him. If someone is hurting or not feeling well, his first response is to give them a hug and try to comfort them. He generous to a fault and is constantly giving away any small gifts that he has available to make other people happy. He enjoys science and history, especially the parts about the American revolution and the presidents, but most of all he loves art and he is constantly drawing on any scrap of paper he can lay his hands on. He loves Star Wars, firemen/policemen, camping with the Boy Scouts, and fishing. His best friend is his service dog, Shadow, a large yellow lab trained for autism support that helps calm him when he gets frustrated or scared.”

Shavone Lovell lives in Morristown with a full-time job and a family of her own. But she’s all-in on this project for Ryan. If anyone wants to help, contact her at 423-258-8981.

The Wish Connection of San Antonio is a non-profit charitable organization that was created in 2006 by AT&T employees to grant the wishes of AT&T children (and those non-AT&T children in the community that are recommended by employees).



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